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U.S. Abstains From UN Security Council Vote On Israeli Settlements

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has made it clear that he will have a less critical policy toward Israel and its current right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right). 

The United States has abstained from U.N. Security Council vote condemning Israeli settlements, in what amounts to an extraordinary rebuke by Washington of its closest Middle East ally.

The resolution, which passed the 15-member Security Council on December 23 with only the United States not voting, sparked a furious reaction from Republicans and staunch supporters of Israel.

The resolution calls the ongoing building of settlements in what the Palestinians say is their terrirtory a "flagrant violation" of international law.

As a permanent member of the council, the U.S. could have vetoed the measure, as it has nearly always done in the past on resolutions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But by allowing the vote to go forward, President Barack Obama's administration has effectively criticized Israel.

The Obama administration had come under sustained pressure from Israeli lobbyists, as well as President-elect Donald Trump, to veto the measure.

Top Congressional Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, quickly lined up to condemn the U.S. move. Ryan called the abstention "absolutely shameful" and a "blow to peace."

And in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has had frosty relations with the Obama administration, pointedly said his government would not abide by its terms.

Trump has made clear he will have a less critical policy toward Israel and Netanyahu's right-wing government.

That position was reiterated in a blunt posting to Twitter less than a hour after the Security Council resolution passed:

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP